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Brussels—it is a city of contradictions. It is grubby yet chic, French but not French, bureaucratic, bizarre, the barely governable capital of the European Union. It is not a very good place to ride a bike, unless you know where to go.
Here are five places that we recommend:
Kring is Brussels’ best cycling clubhouse, a place where local riders can meet for a chat and a coffee, or get their bikes fixed, or head out on one of the many rides organised by the shop. Brands such as Pas Normal Studios, CHPT3, Factor, and Le Coq Sportif are stocked on its shelves. This summer, it is hosting a Rapha pop-up ahead of the start of the Tour de France.
Het Atelier Participatif
Working on your own bike can be intimidating. You might not have the right tools or a good place to set your bike up on a stand. You might not know where to start. Het Atelier Participatif is there to help. Set up by Cyclo, a social enterprise that has set out to promote cycling in Brussels, it offers space and all of the tools you might need to fix your machine. If you need guidance, a professional mechanic is on hand to show you what to do. Het Atelier Participatif also offers courses on bicycle mechanics.
In 1969, Belgian artist Jef Geys brought his camera to the Tour de France and followed the race for a few weeks. His countryman Eddy Merckx had emerged as an overall contender, and would go on to win his first maillot jaune, but Geys opted to focus on the quotidian scenes that are still just as much a part of the race as glorious victories. Snapshots through crowds at stage starts, fuzzy images of riders walking down to breakfast in hotel lobbies—Geys’ photos bring the Tour down to earth and show it in its everyday context. Brussel’s Bozar is hosting an exhibition of them until September. Admission is free.
Founded in Leuven, Mok is one of Brussels’ better specialty coffee spots. They roast their own beans in small batches and work with top traders, so they know exactly where their coffee was grown. Their space near the Brussels canal is bright and airy. Inside, they serve delicious vegetarian dishes. If you’re near the city centre and looking for an espresso, Mok is worth the jaunt.
A sophisticated bistro decked out in Art Deco tiles inside an old butcher’s shop, La Buvette serves modern haute cuisine and has one of the best selections of natural wine in Brussels. For a special evening out, give them a call and book a table.
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